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Learning in the Cat’s Cradle: Weaving learning ecologies in the city

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEcologies for Learning and Practice
Subtitle of host publicationEmerging Ideas, Sightings, and Possibilities
EditorsRonald Barnett, Norman Jackson
Publisher or commissioning bodyRoutledge
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9781138496859, 9781138496880
DateAccepted/In press - 17 Dec 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 6 Nov 2019
DatePublished (current) - 19 Nov 2019


This paper uses the metaphor of the cat’s cradle to explore how learning in the city can be understood as an entangled meshwork of social, material and discursive practices. Drawing on two years of ethnographic encounters in the city with organisers of adult learning, conveners of protests, leaders of elite city institutions, refugees, longstanding inhabitants, artists, medics, city farmers, older people’s groups, parents, carers and social activists (amongst others), the chapter describes how a city’s learning ecology is deeply shaped by physical infrastructure, planning laws, transport systems and in particular by key local actors actively nurturing rich learning experiences. We conclude by arguing that creating a vibrant learning city will require investing in and supporting these key actors and working across education, planning, transport and land departments if issues of equity and access to learning opportunities are to be fully addressed.

    Research areas

  • Learning, Cities, Equity, Infrastructure



  • Full-text PDF (accepted author manuscript)

    Rights statement: This is the author accepted manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via Routledge at Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Accepted author manuscript, 733 KB, PDF document

    Embargo ends: 6/11/20

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